Foreign Policy Digital

D-Day’s Dying Legacy

The last survivors of the Normandy invasion—and history's worst war—are almost gone. How long will the international system they helped create survive them?

There aren’t many of them left, the men who struggled ashore in a haze of bombs and bullets exactly 75 years ago Thursday to save Western civilization. Even the youngest of them, those who still were teenagers on June 6, 1944, are in their 90s today. Only a handful of the brave survivors of D-Day were able to attend this year’s anniversary celebration on the Normandy coast, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 348 American World War II veterans are dying every day.

The living memory of humankind’s worst self-made calamity is dying off with them, individual by individual. Before very long, World War II will no longer dwell in the minds of those who endured its horrors but will pass entirely into the dry pages of history. And it can hardly be a coincidence that slowly, almost imperceptibly, the lessons of the bloodiest century are fading from memory as well. The stark lines of the

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